I am looking to rent a villa this Summer and I have read horror stories about fraudulent listings . How do i make sure I am not being scammed?
Before paying any deposit take the following precautions. First of all, identify what role plays the offeror. It could be the owner himself, a real estate agent acting on behalf of the owner or a third party website listing holiday rentals with the sole purpose of facilitating an agreement between landlords and tenants.
A) If it is the owner, ask him to send you an updated nota simple of the property showing that he is the registered owner. Check if his activity is registered with the Junta de Andalucía here (https://www.juntadeandalucia.es/organismos/turismoregeneracionjusticiayadministracionlocal/servicios/app/buscador-establecimientos-servicios-turisticos.html). Ask him to send you a bank certificate showing details of the account where you must transfer the rent so you can see that the account holder is the same as the registered owner. On top of that, ask him to send you details of his civil liability insurance policy.
B) If it is offered by a real estate agent acting on behalf of the landlord, ask the offeror to send you a nota simple and the commissioning agreement by which the landlord (the registered owner) authorizes the agent to enter into rental agreements. Check the disclaimer conditions published at the website through which you close the deal. If you see the typical clause “we shall not be responsible of the accuracy of the information published”, you must run away or request for an express assumption of liability in the event of a rental fraud. Additionally, ask if the money can be kept in an escrow account held by the offeror until the end of your rental stay. That would be ideal but I am afraid is seldom accepted. Finally, ask for details of the offeror’s civil liability policy.
C) If it a third party offering the website to put in contact you with the owner, follow the precautions mentioned in point A). Don’t forget the website owner can be found responsible for fraudulent listing when he did not take the necessary precautions to avoid it.
In any of the above cases, if the offeror is reluctant to collaborate you must be on alert. Some of these actions may delay the process of booking ab apartment, but it is worth taking the time to avoid horror stories like you mention.
It may seem over the top but you could also ask for a recent utility bill and passport to provide another source of proof that the ¨owner¨ is indeed the owner whether booking privately or via an agent. If booking via an agent I would also ask for the agents registered company name for tax purposes and with a simple google search you should be able to see if the company exists – you can use a free online company search such as https://www.einforma.com/.
For private websites (unlike air b n b or booking.com for example) I always check the domain name holder and when the domain was registered, if the domain is less than a few weeks or months old its normally not a good sign. Its free and easy to do and provides another check, i use:
If i am the victim of holiday rental fraud what do i need to do? If i made the booking using a recognised holiday booking site can i claim against them, a friend told me that they are not liable because they are a broker and not the owner of the property.